While many students get involved in high school athletics for sheer love of the game, there are significant benefits from these extracurricular activities as well. We have 8 ways high school sports benefit students – some of which students and parents may not even realize.
A survey conducted by the Minnesota State High School League in 2007 and reported by the NFHS found that the average GPA of a high school athlete was 2.84, while a student who was not involved in athletics had an average GPA of 2.68. The survey also showed that student athletes missed less school than their non-athlete counterparts, with a total of 7.4 days missed and 8.8 days missed, respectively.
Another study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise in August, 2007 found that students who were active in sports like soccer, football and even skateboarding performed 10 percent better in core subjects like math, science, social studies and language arts. Because sports offer equal opportunity to all students at the high school level, these academic benefits extend to all area of the student population, including students that might be traditionally underserved.
The Importance of the 3 “P’s”
An article at Education.com talks about the 3 “P’s” student athletes learn that extend beyond the classroom: persistence, patience and practice. Team members learn that practice is required, even when they would prefer to be spending time with friends. They learn the harder they work, the better they perform. They also discover that by never giving up, they are more likely to achieve their goals. These life lessons benefit students long after the high school years, helping them succeed in college and after.
Teamwork and Cooperation
Because everyone is working toward a common goal in team sports, students learn firsthand how their performance impacts the rest of the team. Student athletes must find their place, whether it is to be a leader of the team or to play a supporting role.
High school athletics are filled with positive mentors, from the coaches on the sidelines to the leaders on the team. Students learn to work with a wide range of authority figures, who teach them important lessons about hard work, respect and good sportsmanship. Early experiences with mentors like these help shape student athletes in positive ways for the rest of their lives.
Students who participate in sports often forge close friendships with others on the team. These relationships are essential for mental, emotional and physical health throughout the high school years. Students bond together over a common passion, and the time they spend together at practice and games builds tight bonds that often last long after high school is over. Participation in sports provides opportunities to learn teamwork. Playing by the rules and overcoming adversity helps youths learn qualities of good sportsmanship and personal responsibility. Time management and good organizational skills must be developed to achieve both athletic and academic success. These benefits transfer to everyday situations, providing social skills that allow you to succeed in the real world.
As students advance through the ranks of the high school team, they learn valuable leadership skills. Senior athletes are expected to encourage younger team members and hold them accountable. They set an example and often provide advice and guidance both on and off the field.
Practice and games take up plenty of a student’s time, leaving much less for school work and other activities. Athletes must learn time management skills if they are to get everything finished. One student athlete commented, “It definitely helps time management-wise. It affects when I have to do my schoolwork, and when I have to practice.
The physical benefits of participating in a sport are probably the most obvious. Athletic training helps strengthen bodies, develops coordination, and promotes physical fitness. Through sports, youths learn physical fitness in a fun way that encourages healthy living habits. Once young athletes develop these habits, they are more likely to continue them throughout their lives. This is important since physical fitness helps combat major health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Even when it is not basketball season, Johnny runs to keep in shape. He knows that staying physically fit year-round helps him play better when basketball season arrives. Johnny has also learned what types of food provide him with the energy he needs to feel good. Playing basketball has provided Johnny with motivation to develop important habits of regular exercise and healthy eating.